Where's the (telework) money?

Monday - 5/30/2011, 4:00am EDT

An idea was floating around the Federal IT arena recently that would give workers a stipend to help pay for technology that they buy on their own, rather than agency-issued devices.

Despite being pitched by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, and causing excitement in the telework community, the movement seems to have lost momentum.

Simon Szykman, CIO at Commerce, explains some of the challenges:

Sometimes there may be reasons why people prefer the separation between their personal life and their government life and their personal and their government property.

For instance, I may choose to give my Android phone to my daughter so she can listen to some music, and if there's official business on my own personal device, I may not be able to share that as freely.

The concept of remote wiping in the case of a lost device, the government may choose or wish to remotely wipe devices and individuals may not want that happening. The issue of who really manages and controls that device if it's being used for a shared purpose.

But to be honest, I think what it really comes down to is I think the idea behind that recommendation was one of cost savings and if you really look at the managed enterprise services, the cost of the device when you compare it to the cost of the people and the infrastructure to support these services and since many of these devices use mobile phone plans.... When you factor those into the equation, the actual up front cost of the devices is actually a very small portion of the overall lifecycle cost of supporting mobility.

So, in the end, I'm not sure how great a driver that will be for the decisions that are being made.

For more from Simon Szykman on mobility and the federal employee, see WFED panel discussion: The mobile fed.